This is a recurring issue throughout units I have served in. The command can not force a Soldier to sleep in the barracks. Essentially, any Soldier assigned a barracks room is still required to stand inspections, be on any duty roster for the barracks, i.e. CQ, Fire Guard, cleaning, etc., and participate in any short notice GI Parties that may be called if the command determines the barracks are not up standards. Basically, any duties a Soldier who does sleep and actually reside in the barracks are required to do, a Soldier who is assigned a room and chooses to sleep elsewhere, is still required to perform the same duties. Also, a single Soldier who has an assigned room in the barracks and chooses to live off base does so without receiving BAH or BAS.
Restricting a Soldier’s movement
Forcing a Soldier to have a bed check and sleep in the barracks is essentially imposing restriction. Restriction can only be imposed by a commander. Restriction can only be imposed as part of UCMJ action. The commander can not arbitrarily impose restriction because a Soldier sleeps off base, even though they have an assigned room in the barracks. If the command would require all barracks personnel to be in their rooms at 2300 for example, they are restricting the Soldiers’ movement without just cause.
Think of it as telling a Soldier who is married and living in on-base housing or off post that they have to be in their home at 2300 every night. It’s not enforceable.
Communication is key
It is the Soldier’s responsibility to keep the command informed of where they are staying and to provide a means of contact in case the unit issues a middle of the night recall notice. By providing the address of where they are staying, the command can check on the Soldier’s welfare by ensuring the area of town they are staying in is not off-limits or in a high crime area.
Reporting an unauthorized housing situation
Now, to answer your question. Since you know the Soldier is staying off base, inform the Soldier’s immediate supervisor. If you are his supervisor, then counsel the Soldier on his requirements on maintaining his barracks room along with the duties that go along with it. Get an address and check out the area the Soldier lives in to ascertain if it is in a safe area. If you contact the local police they will normally provide you any information about the crime rate in any area of town. Make sure you have a solid contact number and the Soldier is aware of his responsibility to respond to any recall that may be issued. Make sure you pass along this information up your NCO chain so the platoon sergeant and First Sergeant are aware.
Should the Soldier begin to show a pattern of being late to formation or other misconduct there are options for the Commander to prevent the Soldier from leaving base and stay in the barracks. This can only be done though if the Commander has just cause, but that’s a topic for another post.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be
interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily
represent the views of DoD or its Components.